ALP dill opposes foreign property buyer regime

By Leith van Onselen

If you want a textbook example of just how useless the federal Australian Labor Party (ALP) has become, look no further than the member for Chifley, Ed Husic, who noted the following in parliament in response to the Parliamentary Committee’s eminently sensible recommendations to actually enforce the rules governing the purchasing of pre-existing dwellings by foreigners. From The ABC:

The committee’s Labor deputy chairman Ed Husic has condemned much of the report as a “new tax grab” on foreign investors, prompted by racially charged media reports.

“While some good might have the chance to emerge from the inquiry, and some modest compliance measures might make the light of day, one hopes this report dissolves from memory and fast,” he told Parliament in reply to Ms O’Dwyer’s statement.

And according to The Age:

The inquiry was sparked by “hysteria”, Mr Husic said, and a report that used “flagrantly emotional language” to whip up fear that Australians were being locked out of the housing market.

Rather than playing the race card, Husic needs to explain why adding transparency to the foreign investment regime and adequately enforcing the rules governing foreign investment into Australian property is undesirable?

This is one issue where playing the role of “Dr No” in opposition is self-defeating for the ALP. The court of public opinion, along with evidence presented to the inquiry, is strongly against them.

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Unconventional Economist

Comments

  1. Forget Husic. Kelly/Joe don’t need Labor’s support. Just enforce the existing laws. No legislative change required.

    If it helps to expose Labor’s gross regulatory failure on this to motivate you to action great, hook in.

    Start with Labor in Victoria. What will Dan do about FIRB compliance in the Vic land title registry?

      • But like the FIRB the most they could ever do is is report a breach to the Treasurer, there being no other action allowed for by Commonwealth legislation, and the existence of Commonwealth legislation preventing the passage of any State legislation.

      • If the aim is to find someone without a conflict of interest, if that’s your remedy their conflict is even greater, given the centrality of stamp duty to state government revenue.

      • The aim is for the Victorian Government not to be a aiding and abetting an illegal transaction.

      • What difference does it make?

        Casinos aren’t liable if someone attempts to launder money there – unless the controlling authority has legislated to make them liable, in which case they are only required to perform whatever specific steps the regulations require.

        The Treasurer is the controlling authority – he has not, and so far shows zero interest in, required any regulator state or commonwealth to be responsible for any damn aspect of Foreign investment in housing.

        Meanwhile, the Constitution bars the states from interfering with Foreign Trade, making the whole thing pretty precarious.

    • “What will Dan do about FIRB compliance in the Vic land title registry?”

      Probably nothing but the Coalition are talking about privatising the registry office if they get re-elected. I’m sure that will help with compliance.

      • Can the Coalition assure Victorian voters that the new privatised registry will not register the unapproved and illegal sales of Victorian dwellings to foreign nationals?

    • “Meanwhile, the Constitution bars the states from interfering with Foreign Trade”

      Wow, can provide a link to the provision of the constitution you are referring to?

      • Okay, you got me.

        But s. 109 still means that as far as the Foreign Takeovers Act has conferred a right on the Commonwealth Treasurer (i.e. to block sales to overseas entities) a state can’t claim that right for themselves.

        Hence, the way is open for a vendor to challenge the Titles Office if it refuses to register a sale that the Treasurer has not blocked. After all, even “The Treasurer shall not refuse to approve a person for the purposes of subsection (4) unless the Treasurer is satisfied that the person is a foreign person and that it would be contrary to the national interest for that person to acquire the interest concerned.”

        EDIT: The overall point is that it runs highly contrary to the spirit of federalism for individual states to unilaterally enforce their own interpretations of parts of commonwealth policy. The titles office could be a practical place to make the check, but only with the full co-operation of the treasurer.

      • Your ability to complicate a relatively straight forward issue is significant.

        It is illegal for a foreign national to buy an Australian dwelling without prior FIRB approval.

        It is the states role to manage and register the legal recognition of land ownership and title transfers within their state boundaries.

        The states should not be registering unapproved and illegal transactions.

        Is it really that hard to understand?

      • They’re not illegal unless the Treasurer has declared them illegal.

        Even if that were not so, your solution means that in one state only these transactions are barred, which also kind of complicates things.

        Surely if the Treasurer – the only entity given responsibility or authority in this issue by the relevant act (but not actually obliged by the act to do any damned thing)- thinks that state titles offices are part of the solution he just has to ask? There have been 3 COAG meetings with the current Treasurer – all with the advantage that the two most important state wrt O/S property have been on the same side as the Treasurer. Did it come up?

      • “They’re not illegal unless the Treasurer has declared them illegal.”

        Wrong again. Give it away champ. You are way out of your depth.

      • They’re not illegal unless the Treasurer has declared them illegal.

        Errr, aren’t they illegal unless the Treasurer has declared them *legal* ?

      • You tell me. This is all it says:

        21A:
        “(2) Where the Treasurer is satisfied that:
        (a) a foreign person proposes to acquire an interest in Australian urban land; and
        (b) the proposed acquisition would be contrary to the national interest;
        the Treasurer may make an order prohibiting the proposed acquisition.”

        26A sets out that the Treasurer must be notified – and gives the Treasurer 40 days to reject the application. So under TP’s scheme if the Title’s office is concerned about absolving themselves of guilt, they send off the notification and make sure settlement doesn’t occur for 40 days.

        The phrasing means that if you don’t hear back, consent is assumed.

        Meanwhile the pile of unchecked transactions continues to grow.

    • There’s no reason at all to restrict foreign purchases of houses, which are a form of consumption good. We would be happy to sell more agricultural products, manufactures, insurance…or any other product to foreign customers. Why prevent them buying houses? There is just no reason to do so.

      If the cost of housing is rising it is because of inflexible supply, poor urban planning and own tax laws.

      • and there it is ……the actual ALP policy in all its simplistic, ignore the law, big Australia, FIRE friendly, free-for-all glory.

        Why didn’t Ed just say that 9 months ago and save us all the feigned concern.

  2. Labor are unable to own up to the mistake they made, too worried about upsetting their voter base and scared of the big R word.

    • “….upsetting their voter base …..”

      Yes that dwindling band of upper mind class bleeding hearts who hijacked the party (and the unions) and drove its base into the hands of the LNP.

      Absolutely Brilliant.

      • Correct Pfh007.

        I think it’s a result of most of them being career politicians, coming from a similar educated, middle class background. So there is a disturbing disconnect from the working class they nominally represent.

        Similar problem on the other side of the house, but you kind of expect the Liberal’s to be elitist.

      • A large chunk of the labor MPs are sons and daughters of previous labor MPs, and union high office holders. They are private school educated and wealthy.

        The ALP is just a different kind of aristocracy.

        Voters is stupid.

  3. So this is what we will get when we throw out Team Australia?

    FFS!!!!!!!!!

    I’m with you Stephen Morris

  4. This is what happens when light weight “spin merchants” take over the party.

    The ALP is so devoid of competent economic thinking that they have completely lost any understanding of the critical and historic role of land in an economy and its importance to the interests of the working and other unlanded classes in society.

    What with Penny Wong claiming she wants to sell off agricultural land even faster than the LNP to foreign buyers and Albo claiming the China-FTA as a left wing victory it is clear the party has lost the plot in some relativistic upper middle class fog of sound bites.

    There are clouds of dust in the graveyards of Australia as old ALP supporters spin in their graves.

    Ed Husic – is a goose.

    As an MP for a working class area of Sydney he is a particular dim specie of goose at that.

  5. What a friggen tool.
    ALP is full of left wing nut jobs.
    LNP is full of right wing nut jobs.

    Give me Libs run by Turnbull please.

    • I was always worried about giving the reins to a member of the banking fraternity, but he couldn’t do a worse job than either of them if he tried.

    • Rrrrrright.
      Erica Betz
      Brandis
      Bernardi
      Pyne
      McDonald

      NO THANKS

      I need Chris B to wack a I can Haz meme here.

      I CAN HAZ IMBECILES.

      Here are some people speaking sense.

      Mark Dreyfus. Lab.
      Ludlam (eminently sensible)..
      Sometimes Sen John Williams
      Wishe Wilson
      Xenophon
      Bandt
      Haven’t heard Cath McGowan yet much, but what little we have, sounds sensible.

      We should start a roll call of intelligent parliamentarians.

      Really, really, like Ludlam.

      • Ha ha I CAN HAZ IMBICILES if ever there was a cat parliament this is it! Everything but the cute of course, otherwise, laughs a minute, cringeworthy grimaces, pure spontaneous how the f#ck did it do that?ness, even a crazy cat lady (looking at you Tasmania!) …

      • Who’d either help them find a good home or give them a quick and easy ticket to a higher plane?

        Why?

    • Actually, the ALP seems to have more centre left and centre right politicians than true lefties (or left wing nut jobs, as you put it). Which is why many of us on the left as so disillusioned with Labor.

      The Coalition are a different story again. They’re so conservative now that someone like Malcolm Turnbull has no long term prospects as leader. He will be kept around as a token moderate voice, but he has no leadership prospects.

      • While that may be the case, Labor lacks individuals with the fundamental talent to do the job. Many years of hacks and idiots being pre-selected into safe seats has narrowed the ALP parliamentary party gene pool.

        Alot of the talent which was there walked out before the last election.
        Too incompetent to do the job now.

    • ALP is full of left wing nut jobs.

      The ALP has been slightly-less-right-wing neoliberal since the early 2000s.

      They get the occasional twinge of conscience, it’s true, but to call them left-wing anything, let alone nutjobs, is absurd.

      Even the Greens are only centre-left these days. The whole spectrum has been shifting for decades.

  6. Ed Husic is a religious zealot. Some should check what his religion advocates in respect of capitalist zealism. He is advocating for his ‘brothers and sisters’.

  7. ” The inquiry was sparked by “hysteria”, Mr Husic said, and a report that used “flagrantly emotional language” to whip up fear that Australians were being locked out of the housing market. ”

    Current generation and future generations already locked out of the market you unwholesome pile of canine excrement !

    • Brilliantly summed up Bob ….and when I see the photos of young Australian lads who have lost their lives in overseas combat or the two that have recently won the VC I think of the virtues that these young soldiers have as men……and then we have these turds as members of Parliment.

      • Ha ha ha ….. nice one !

        Our pollies are so brainless that they mistake genuine concern for hysteria….

        Not only ‘locked out’ but the ‘adults’ running this country have gone and flushed the damn key down the toilet as well.

        Just like the bastards will accuse you of being hysterical when showing genuine concern regarding the treatment of boat people.

        I mean get a life – this is Australia where greed and self-interest consume us all except for those bloody hysterical types who can’t see how good we have it here in the wide brown land down under….

  8. Husic is just part of the scum called politicians. Probably protecting his family’s massive property portfolio.

  9. Ed Husic is not a complete waste of space. He’s one of the few pollies who’s taken an interest in the “Australia tax” and the ridiculous price gouges of the likes of Apple. So credit where due.

    He’s wrong on this one of course, and I have to say that, given you expect pollies to speak to their electoral base, I’m a bit surprised. I wouldn’t have thought Chifley would be a popular electorate with the Chinese money parachuting crowd- that would more be areas like Eastwood, Rhodes, Chatswood et al. I would have thought Ed’s migrant base would be more the refugee/ family reunion/ poor overseas student crowd.

    I still remember that one of the things that creamed Rudd’s popularity- and arguably contributed indirectly to his downfall- was his support for a “Big Australia”. On the other hand, one of the political risks with running large migration schemes is that some (often marginal) seats end up with a disproportionate group of people who think that Australia would be an even better place if you had more of migrant group X, so anything that looks like cutting back on immigration gets howled down.

    • “Ed Husic is not a complete waste of space.”

      I agree. I normally have a lot of time for him but his comments on this review are pathetic.

      • Albeit understandable. Husic, a Muslim, in multicultural Western Sydney is no doubt highly attuned to all matters concerning ethnicity and race – and understands how fragile moderation and balance can be.

      • Think it’s a bit rich of MB claiming that Husic is using the race card when the reason his comments are reported is that MB (and many commenters) obsess about foreign or Chinese property (and any other investment).

        Fact is nobody is exactly certain, however knowing Melbourne it’s hilarious that the middle eastern suburban skips are complaining about Chinese (e.g. some old family friends near Monash claim all these Asian = Chinese students are given free education, apartments, cars, automatic immigration, they all cheat etc. etc.), ditto Sydney, meanwhile the rest of the Australian property and related markets in other cities and regions are stagnant.

        I understand Australia is quite conservative but too many get sucked into these debates (memes in an echo chamber), which of course would not be deflecting attention from negative gearing, SMSFs, dodgy real estate sales and data, low interest rates etc.; and it all just sounds like whingeing…… especially if no impact on anyone personally or at best anecdotal, bit like ‘boat people’……. some of the utterances come direct from or are informed by ‘hard right nationalists’….. with whom I would not want to be associated….

        • GunnamattaMEMBER

          You keep spruiking that racist card dude….

          The simple fact of the matter is that perfectly decent not racist people are noticing foreigners buying local real estate and asking questions about why this would be so and what the implications of it are – and that those in authority, in politics and the media are not prepared to provide honest answers. I gather you are connected in some way with bringing migrants to Australia, good and well. Migration to Australia is currently running at about 4 times its 30 year average, not many are batting an eyelid about that and fair enough. Australia remains one of the largest migrant intakes per head of population on earth. You will not get many more fervent adherents to the view that migrants have added enormously to Australian culture than I.

          But the racist card that you want to keep flashing serves the purpose of those who profit from restricting the supply of Australian real estate while promoting increased demand for it – particularly through migration, but also straight out speculation [how many other nations in this world allow speculation in their real estate? If we do have supply issues of such magnitude wouldnt it be an idea to tone down the speculative element of this until this is addressed? what would be the impact of that? Shouldnt the question even get asked? What exactly are you proposing is done about foreign nationals buying Australian real estate and what would be the impacts of that?]. That impacts upon future Australians regardless of their race, and regardless of their race future Australians will presumably want to ask questions about why migration ran at levels that it did without an economic narrative, and why it would be that foreign nationals were allowed/encouraged to buy Australian real estate at a time of exorbitant domestic prices when the social impact of that was to price a considerable body of Australians out of the ability to own their own home in circumstances which suited them.

          Husic, and the frauds in the ALP every bit as much as the frauds in the LNP flash the race card as protection for a real estate ponzi racket. You – presumably with a pecuniary or otherwise vested interest in promoting migration – are helping them to avoid openly and honestly addressing the need of a nation to incorporate immigration with the social and economic development of the nation, and is at a basic level every bit as reactionary as that which you would presumably quickly label some of the people here.

          I say that as an Australian who speaks three languages, lived overseas for about a decade, is married to a foreign national (and is perfectly aware of the hassle that involves) and has children with dual passports and is highly likely to return there – and counts migrant peoples (of a range of ethnicities) amongst close friends.

          Even many of them are asking questions about Australian real estate and noting that what is happening here is to the net detriment of people wanting to be here and their children……

      • Gunna asked “…how many other nations in this world allow speculation in their real estate?”

        Great question Gunna, and one which I can never get a straight answer for.

      • @ Gunnamatta, I was not addressing this at you personally?

        I simply see too many cliches, stereotypes and expressions that regularly do the rounds but neither explain nor inform e.g. ‘Ponzi scheme’ suggesting uncontrolled growth (can be applied to many phenomena).

        Why do the waters need to be muddied by almost all media focus being upon (micro) real estate markets/auctions in the middle and outer established areas of Melbourne and Sydney (with the former still having record levels of stock listed publicly for sale)?

        Conversely, how would the property market in Australia look excluding data from eastern suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney?

        I admit that ‘foreign’ sales are difficult to spot, especially anecdotally via auctions, sloppy reporting etc. but wouldn’t it be more useful to couch the perceived and actual feedback with (if possible) transparent FIRB data and other variables and indicators e.g. SMSFs, postcodes etc.

        It seems to be falling for the RE industry’s media tactic of focusing attention on only those areas with (significant) price growth, raising the emotions, bypassing logic… suggesting everyone should get in now or miss out.

        Further, depending upon what definition of ‘migration’ one is using, it has become very ‘rubbery’ over the years (in addition to increased global mobility which we take for granted), especially in an effort to inflate and alarm (that has been going on for centuries), unless like in another social science, economics, one has to make and use very clear definitions. Presently in the UK there is a bi-partisan move to tighten up definition of ‘immigrant’ etc. due to UKIP distorting the meaning of ‘immigrant’ to include almost everybody….

        Meanwhile property owners in regional areas can barely give their residential or agricultural properties away to prospective buyers, whether local or international, including PRC citizens or companies; why is this so if a land grab is happening?

        Personally some of my best friends are the worst bigots I know (albeit skin deep), and their utterances are easily knocked down with wit (meaning not deep convictions). However, my concern is when perceived proxy issues are blamed or correlated with immigrants etc., but with neither clear evidence nor assessing all related correlations or variables, it can be interpreted negatively, for the same outcome on the public….

        The Kremlin have been doing this often of late, and they learnt this tactic from kooky conservative christian right neo cons in the US, who have influenced mainstream media everywhere, i.e. bypass facts and logic in preference to belief and emotions……

        By the way, I have not heard any oldies in the eastern suburbs complain with the prices they are getting to pay for their downsizing/retirement home while helping out their baby boomer and gen X children 🙂

        • GunnamattaMEMBER

          and I simply see the canard of racism tossed up far too often – either directly or more subtly

          and it is always to deter the contemplation of as many facts (and arguments regarding those facts) as possible, and is generally to try and prevent consideration of an issue, almost invariably for someones pecuniary interest, and where the gain is leveraged information.

          As for

          Meanwhile property owners in regional areas can barely give their residential or agricultural properties away to prospective buyers, whether local or international, including PRC citizens or companies; why is this so if a land grab is happening?

          For starters we have had within the last week the Agriculture Minister state that the amount of land in Australia owned by Foreign nationals is about 2.2 – 2.5 times the land mass of the state of Victoria. I would add that within the last month I have spent time with family in Northern Victoria on an agricultural property where the subject of foreign buyers of agricultural land was raised by them (and they actually dont know my views as people here would – most of them being quite conservative) in the context of people in their neighborhoods (there was a party where i was chatting with some of their neighbors) have been cold called by foreign nationals looking to buy their properties within a short timeframe, and for what they considered above the going rate. I would also note that the prices of houses in rural towns almost anywhere in Australia are far far more expensive than their counterparts in (for example) the US or Canada – though I am not suggesting this is in any way reflective of foreign nationals wanting to buy houses in rural towns (it is in fact another aspect of Australia’s ludicrous real estate ‘market’ which elites dont want to discuss)

    • Strange Economics

      Lots of low income people are desperately punting on negative geared flats too for the get rich quick property boom, thats his market to protect.

      Foreign buyers help them increase 10 % a year forever too.
      Remember the Block, the foreign funded marginal buyers pay 15 % more.

      Though those western Sydney punters will be the first ones cleaned out by a 10% price drop, like in 2008 in Western Sydney, St Mary’s etc. .

  10. ‘new tax grab on foreign investors’

    who is this bosnian bloke representing?? australia’s interests or foreigners?

    bloody hell

  11. A good friend of mine was recently out here from the UK and he made a point of saying how much his 2 bed London flat had increased by in the last 2 years…

    And here I was thinking I would be able to have a property free discussion with a mate I hadn’t seen in 2 years….Wrong!

    • Yeah I hear your, its an anglo-world wide disease.

      Still… at least we know you have good looking mates

      • He is actually Australian, so I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by his ‘look how much equity I got’ speil…

  12. http://www.watoday.com.au/business/the-economy/foreigners-sausages-and-the-great-australian-dream-20141127-11v4a8.html

    “So there, something has been seen to be done, foreign buyers should be reassured as the nation needs their investment to encourage more building and the real conclusion about the impact on housing affordability is what everyone already knew – maybe a little at the margin, but not enough to worry about it ”

    The Chorus line of idiots continues.

    • Prezactly! Why fight a war of acquisition which is messy and costly when you can just walk in a slowly buy up all the best pieces of the target country over a couple of decades!
      How would the people of Brazil on New Zealand feel if the Australian Government decided to walk in and buy up all the best land in those countries on behalf of Australian taxpayers?
      Most foreigners cannot believe that Australians are so stupid as to let non-residents simply waltz in and buy freehold property. Try doing this in Indonesia or almost anywhere and you will not be able.

      50 leases maybe, but not freehold ownership.

    • Pascoe is one of those smug Australians with a shit eating grin who likes to belittle those of us who show a little concern regards the direction this country is heading in.

      No impact on affordability ?

      None ?

      Not even a little bit ?

      Even though they splash cash around as if it were confetti, paying over and above what sound reasoning dictates ?

      Mental note to self – must stop all this winging and moaning and get on board the Pascoe Express before it’s last stop on the way to Utopia…..or perhaps that beckoning cliff ?

  13. Politics has devolved into a sort of corporate brand quango, where market share is the driving force to executive remuneration.

    Skippy… Liberal politics suffered a hostile take over by liberal economic neolibertarianism. MBA numerology is the new religion, auto-da-fé held daily for those who’s numbers are found wanting.

  14. Husic is a grow and hope sort of guy. He wants a large population for Australia and has said as much in the parliament. He obviously has no understanding of carrying capacity and the huge chip on his shoulder draws him to shout racist at any and every occasion.

    Macrobusiness is right to point out that the ‘R’ bomb is most inappropriate and Husic needs to delve deeper than that.

  15. I’ve already sent him a polite email pointing out that he’s an idiot and blaming the race card is just lazy politics.

    I’ve included links to articles pointing out clear breaches of FIRB.

    And that he’s an idiot, I may have pointed that out more than once.

  16. I can only suggest as a starting point that people go to the website of the federal ALP member in their electorate, contact them, and give them the polite and firm feedback that you strongly disagree with the approach they seem intent to follow on this issue. The ALP needs to know that Ed Husic cannot speak for their entire constituency on such a fundamental issue.

    • Labor have been up to their necks in this scam since Rudd#1, cheered on by their economic “advisors” like the Kouk and their FIRE backers.

      Brian Wilson was their appointment.

      Their response is appalling.

      They have sold out their constituency for what?

  17. Just another Judas.

    As I said before, Parliament is a scum bucket and representing big money, local or foreign, is what it’s about. Selling out the people they supposedly represent comes naturally to these bastards. What’s this Judas’s equity, business or lobby connections? Need we ask at all?

  18. Here is Ed Husic’s response to my email – basically he does not acknowledge the possiblity that there could be breaches of the law or that FIRB is doing a rubbish job.

    Here’s his response to my email

    “Thanks for the email. I reckon we disagree on much in this area but for what it’s worth here’s the evidence listed by the Committee report:

    1. Foreign investors are limited to buying new homes/apartments (and can only buy existing properties if they are temporary residents, under restriction).

    2. First home buyers have an 80 per cent preference in their buying habits for established real estate – both the Property Council and Real Estate Institute of Australia indicate this (see page 92 and 93)

    3. For the other 20 per cent? Well, the Reserve Bank of Australia says “…the information available suggests that foreign residential purchases have probably not had a large direct effect on the price of housing that is typically purchased by first home buyers…”

    4. And, finally, I quote the Property Council again: “The real enemies of affordability, from our perspective, are bad planning systems, lack of land supply and crippling taxes and charges…” (page 86).

    The biggest point I want to make to you is that foreign investment has been demonstrated to INCREASE housing supply – which, on disposal, is more likely to be bought by first home buyers.

    Before slugging the market with extra charges, we should get the fundamentals of compliance right.

    That’s the point that I have been stressing.

    As to your other two points, let me deal with those.

    Re the high profile case, was this raised with FIRB or Treasury. I am happy to do this if you like.

    Second, re race card – as I say in my speech the Inquiry was triggered by some questionable analyst reports. It’s hard not to link these matters given the close proximity in which all this occurred.

    I’ve attached a copy of my speech from today. Hope it provides more detail.

    Thanks for writing to me.

    Regards

    Ed”
    Ed Husic MP.

    [email protected]